We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again; first dates can be make or break, which is why it’s imperative you make an impression by choosing a suitably swish restaurant. Hg2‘s very own Giverny Tattersfield counts down the best first-date restaurants in Miami – all from first-hand experience, of course.
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Café Prima Pasta
The instinct to evade the family on a first date is understandable (and sane), but an exception has to be made in order for you to meet the Cea family of Café Prima Pasta. With Papa Arturo and Mama Carla in the kitchen and their children Fabien, Gerardo and Marcela running things both in-house and behind the scenes, this is one family you want your date to meet. The food is well priced and delicious and can be enjoyed in the cosy interior with photos of happy celebrities smiling down at you.
You can expect a happy ending from a night dining at the café of this particular Romeo. Lit by flickering candlelight you can sit across from your heart’s desire and murmur sweet nothings to each other without even pausing to glance at a menu. In fact, there is no menu. Instead, you can impress your date by chatting with Romeo Majano, your host and chef for the evening, and the six-course, personalised gourmet dinner he concocts especially for you. The dark dining room only accommodates 28, so you’re pretty much guaranteed intimacy.
Smith & Wollensky
Smith & Wollensky is quite simply one of the best steakhouses in the city, and with prime, 28 day-old cuts on the menu and a waterfront location, it seems a shame not to indulge. Combine the age-old date classic of dinner and drinks and get the best of both at this restaurant; the long ‘Deco’ bar is usually packed with cutesy couples, while outside on the decking intimate dinners unfold before the sun setting beyond the water.
The luminous, multi-coloured tower of the China Grill is a beacon on the Miami skyline, while inside the restaurant is sleek, chic, and surprisingly understated. The best bit, however, is the medley of offerings on the menu – from Italian, Japanese, French, Chinese and American cuisine – which can be made in portions to share. And really, is there anything more sensual than feeding each other sumptuous delights from around the world?
Taverna Opa gives you the perfect excuse to work up a sweat on a first date. Here, it’s all about good food and fun with tables dressed minimally so that should the mood take you when they turn the music up by all means jump right on with a resounding, ‘Opa!’ A belly-dancing, crockery-smashing, authentic Greek experience right on Ocean Drive.
Sitting under the stars amid swaying palm trees, sipping cold sake and eating sushi prepared by master sushi chef Shingo ‘Shin’ Inoue are just some of the things you can expect from a date at Shoji Sushi. One of the best things about this restaurant is that you don’t usually have to book in advance, and even if the restaurant is full when you arrive it’s not much of a wait.
Wish, The Hotel
With romantic favourites such as scallops and lobster gracing the menu, the delectable seafood is reason enough to treat your date to an evening at Wish. But the appeal does not end at the food. The dining areas, both indoor and al fresco, are cosy and lit by candlelight, and neon electric cocktails wrap things up nicely. After your meal head to the roof, look out over the sparkling lights of the city, and listen to the waves crashing against the shore. Could you, er, Wish for more?
Dining at La Locanda sees a return to the romance of white tablecloths, fresh flowers and candlelight. Not quite what you’d expect from an undefeated Italian boxer and an ex-Italian paratrooper, but it’s a simple formula that works. The seduction of the restaurant is that it doesn’t try too hard, with a fabulous menu of inspired Italian dishes and a beautiful backdrop that may encourage a Lady and the Tramp-style smooch.
If it’s good enough for Frank Sinatra, then it’s certainly good enough for us. Aside from ‘ol Blue Eyes, The Forge has also played host to Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and former Presidents Nixon and Clinton, and is something of a Miami institution with its signature stained glass ceiling, famed farm-to-table cuisine and a wine list with no fewer than 50 pages. A major refurbishment this year has kept it as fresh as it was in its heyday.
Chef Norman Van Aken is passionate about food, and it can be tasted in every mouthful at his eponymous restaurant. Although from the outside the restaurant may not be what you’d expect from such a famous eatery, it does, in fact, camouflage the real gastronomic experience found within.